Chaekgeori, a unique Korean form of still-life painting, began in the late eighteenth century. Chaekgeori is usually a large multipanel folding screen that comes in varying styles, represents an uncharacteristic break from traditional forms of Korean painting. The focus on the human object interaction of books situates books not as a mere objects but rather provides the fuller understanding of books in Chaekgeori.
While the exact origins of chaekgeori is not confirmed, Jeongjo, the king of Joseon dynasty in the eighteenth century, established Gyujanggak, the royal library, and commissioned chaekgeori to decorate his office at Changdeokgung palace. His fondness of Chaekgeori played a role of showing his intellectual authority as well. Chaekgeori screen was an important backdrop for the king.
It is possible to trace similar Renaissance painting and the transmission of its techniques to Korea through Jesuit missionaries, who had ongoing artistic activities in Beijing. Regardless of source, Korean artists and patrons developed Chaekgeori painting in a creative and distinctive manner, using it to express their identities, hopes and aspirations.
Two main characteristics of Chaekgeori painting provide convincing evidence that we need to look westward for its origins. First is the feature of side-by-side shelves in more than one vertical column and complex shelves that do not conform to continuous horizontal and vertical divisions. The second feature is Western artistic techniques such as linear perspective, chiaroscuro (the use of light and shadow to achieve a sense of volume), and trompe l'oeil (literally "fool-the-eye").